Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bernanke Says Federal Reserve Ready to Further Stimulate the Economy


Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke on Friday laid out a case for the central bank to take further action to bolster growth, citing the risks of prolonged high unemployment and a U.S. economy slipping into a deflationary spiral.

In a much-anticipated speech in Boston, Bernanke did not spell out details of how and when the Fed would take action. But the first option that he mentioned was a program of buying additional assets, namely government bonds, in an effort to drive down long-term interest rates and stimulate economic growth.

The central bank is widely expected to announce such a program, known as quantitative easing, at the conclusion of its next policymakers' meeting on Nov. 2 and 3.

"There would appear to be a case for further action," he said at a conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

As Bernanke spoke, the government released statistics showing the so-called core inflation rate, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, was unchanged in September and is now running at an annual rate of 0.8% — well below the Fed's informal desired target of 1.5% to 2%. Separately, there was better-than-expected news on last month's retail sales activity as total sales rose 0.6% from the prior month, boosted by higher auto sales.

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